Possum In The Henhouse

by Kitchen Table, Illinois

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These songs were recorded live* on West 67th Street in Cleveland, Ohio on March 11 and 12, 2011.

*We overdubbed the piano, the claps, the tuba, Sam's spoken parts, the gents' "Marktown" sing-along, and the "All Aboard!"s.


released June 9, 2011

Kitchen Table, Illinois is:
Gabe McElwain - acoustic and electric guitars, singing
Becky Stark - mandolin, acoustic guitar, singing

Joined on this recording by:
Sam Gmetro - drums, tuba, speaking, singing
John McElwain - bass guitar, singing
Danny O'Brien - banjo, acoustic guitar, piano, singing
Erin O'Brien - singing
Laura Simna - violin
Michael Ubaldi - speaking

Produced, Engineered, Mixed, and Mastered by:
Michael Ubaldi


all rights reserved



Kitchen Table, Illinois Chicago, Illinois

Some of Kitchen Table, Illinois' favorite United States of America include Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, California, Oregon, and Idaho.

Some of our favorite geographical features include freshwater islands, brownlands, steep grades, ravines, tunnels, and horizons.

Some of our favorite emotions include love, heartbreak, and anger.

We write songs about all of the above and more.
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Track Name: The Last Wolverine In Michigan
(G. McElwain/R. Stark)

There she was on my front page
Her name in letters one inch tall
The shock nearly killed me at my age
And here I thought I'd got 'em all

I stood up so fast when I saw that, I spilled my orange juice
I'd cleared those monsters out of Michigan back in my prime
I figured I had one more in me even after all this time

I licked my lips and greased my traps
I sharpened my wolverine knife,
filled my canteens, folded my maps
then I set out to end her life

The last wolverine in Michigan was now my prey
A worthy foe! I felt as though I hadn't aged a day
and I still knew the wilds of Michigan like my back yard
Well, I hoped that I could take her, but I hoped she'd make it hard

And that she did
I tracked her over miles of frozen ground
A bitter wind swirled rumors of her savage scent around
She stripped my traps and licked 'em clean
But I gained on her every night
At last we met in a ravine
I drew me up to my full height

She turned around a little slow
She looked at me with those dark eyes
She laid herself down in the snow
Then breathed her last and stole my prize

The last wolverine in Michigan gave up the ghost
She chose the place, I dug the grave and marked it with a post
Oh, the ground was cold in Michigan, the sky was gray
And the last wolverine in Michigan is in Michigan
She’s in Michigan to stay
Track Name: King Of The County
(R. Stark)

You lit out of Nauvoo in a hurry
And you made it up to Voree with your wife in tow
And your cousin in your bed
You thought that she would never know

But when you rowed yourself across those muddy waters
Did you see a host of angels hanging in the trees?
Was it the angels or the golden lights
That brought you to your knees?

Hold on
You got nothin’ left to lean on
And there’s no earthly place to run to
When they come knockin’ on your door the deal is done
And you’re gonna have to answer
They’re looking to have some fun
And you’re the King of the County

Well you laid down twenty dollar bills to make it legal
And you laid down fifty more to make sure all of it was yours
Could you hear your people singing
Swinging through those courthouse doors?

But it weren’t no question that the man had got your number
Even in the days before you let it all get out of hand
So you fortified that island
So that you could make your stand


Well the law will hold you down if you should struggle
And the law will block the road if you should try to flee
And you will ferry every sinner across to the shores of Galilee

Track Name: Marktown
(G. McElwain)

If you follow Dickey Road northwest from Michigan Avenue
To 129th Street, what you'll find there if you do
Is the single sweetest sight this pair of sore eyes ever saw
The “Brigadoon of Industry” designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw

You got Broad, Prospect, and Spring Streets
Running northeast and southwest
Just like Liberty and Park Street, built at Clayton Mark's request
You got School Street, you got Lilac Street
With Grove Street in between
All parallel to Riley Road, all built in 1917

East Chicago, Indiana
Come what may
East Chicago, Indiana

The Avenues are named for trees
That's Oak and Spruce and Pine
They run northwest/southeast three miles east of the state line
So even though Mark only built two fifteenths of the town he planned
Turns out two fifteenths was plenty
Raise your voice, strike up the band!
We love you...

Track Name: Moon Over Nowhere
(G. McElwain/R. Stark)

Every Friday, I stare down the clock
Try to keep it together ‘til I can get paid
Top my tank off and touch up my lipstick
Then I’m tearing like hell up the Lewiston Grade

There’s no town in the place where I stop
There’s no out of the way little honky-tonk bar
There’s no diner or roadhouse or truckstop
There’s no seedy motel you can rent by the hour

There’s a moon over nowhere tonight
Down a highway that nobody sees
There’s a moon over nowhere tonight
Shine down on my baby and me

My man’s work moved up north in November
So I said I’d be there by the middle of May
But the job that I’ve got is in Pullman
‘Til we’re both in the black, that’s where I’ve got to stay

So I bring every blanket I own
And he drives down in his truck with some cold Oly beer
And we drink to the distance between us
And we count all the shooters and dream of next year

Track Name: Lydia
(G. McElwain/R. Stark)

Learned how to read
Sounding out all of Mama's tattoos
Learned how to count
Peeling off all her butterfly band-aids
Learned my colors and shapes
From each black eye and each rainbow bruise
She didn't like me one bit
But she taught me some things I could use

Learned my times tables
Crunching the numbers when she lifted weights
I learned how to write cursive script
Signing her name at the race track
I learned eight county seats in three states
So we'd make her court dates
She didn't like me one bit
But to me she was one of the greats

Learned how to sew
Stitching up her cuts after a fight
Learned how to sing
Her to sleep when the jukebox was busted
Learned how to hold
Down the fort when she stayed out all night
She didn't like me one bit
But in spite of herself
Mama brought me up right
Track Name: My Better Half
(G. McElwain)

You caught my eye and so I let you have it
You took my arm all I could do was laugh
But then you broke my heart and kept the part you wanted but
The joke's on you 'cause I’ve still got my better half

You talked my ear off and you broke my spirit
in two the way you roped me like a calf
I may have donated that kidney for you baby but
The joke's on you 'cause I’ve still got my better half

I'm gonna make the most of what I'm left with
Gonna put my foot down, gonna take a stand
I’m gonna wink at other ladies if I want to
I’m gonna learn to play piano with my hand

Feel free to rest your head upon my shoulder
My lung will want a half a pack a day
It looks like you ended up with my appendix
But it's all right, I didn’t need it anyway

You really ought to get that bum knee looked at
I kept the wheat all you got was the chaff
And if you want a piece of me, well you can have it because
The joke's on you and I’ve still got my better half
The joke's on you and I’ve still got my better half
Track Name: All Aboard!
(G. McElwain/R. Stark)

When you hear that whistle blow
All aboard!
It's time to go

A train knows where it's going
A train can never lose its way
A train can roll on through the night
and get you there before the break of day
A train runs on a train track
A train track's made of two steel rails
Those rails are held in place on wooden ties
by spikes that work like giant nails


A train's pulled by an engine
That engine used to run on steam
But these days it's more likely pow'r'd
by diesel fuel or electricity
On board is the conductor
Who punches tickets or takes fares
The engineer's up front at the controls
in those striped overalls he wears

(The overall is a garment designed for hard work. It’s a single-piece trouser and apron combination that straps over the shoulder. They're called overalls ‘cause they're worn over top of everyday clothes to protect them from dirt, grease, and wear.)


If you go on a train trip
in coach class you'll get your own seat
But in a sleeper car you'll get a fold-down bed
On long trips, that's a treat!
On trains if you get hungry
Or want to stretch your legs a while
There's coffee in the lounge car
In the dining car they serve full meals with style


On trains, look out the window
To get a unique point of view:
Embankments, fence lines, frontage roads,
The backsides of each town that you pass through
A train stops at a station
Some folks get off, new folks get on
And then it takes off down the line
The whistle blows, next thing you know, it's gone


(On my father's train, there are many cars. If it were not so, would I have told you that you can get a ticket from St. Louis to Grand Rapids for $54?)
Track Name: Hold Me
(G. McElwain)

Hold me when the sun gets low
Hold me as that sun goes down
Hold me as the darkness falls
Hold me as the stars come out

Hold me 'til the kingdom come
Hold me 'til those trumpets blow
Hold me tight
With all your might
Don't let me go

Hold me when the clouds roll in
Hold me when the thunder shakes
Hold me when the rain beats down
Hold me when the levee breaks


Hold me if you need a hand
Hold me if you need an arm
Hold me like your sword and shield
Hold me like your good luck charm


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